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Home > Books > The Art of Archerie > Chapter II
Chapter II
That shooting is most necessary for this kingdom both in peace and war, and how it may profitably be used, without charge to the country, trouble to the people, or any hindrance to necessary occasions.

Whatsoever I have formerly spoke in praise of the bow, which I know to be most worthy, yet I would not have the curious to mistake me, and think in it I derogate from other weapons, and so call me a King Harry Captain, or a man of an old edition, out of date in these refined times, where nothing is excellent, but that which is least excellent, folly and self opinion. No, I am far from such censuring, for I acknowledge the pike and musket to be the eldest brethren in war, and the weapons wherewith I have both commanded and been commanded all my life in the wars, neither dare I carry a thought either to weaken their power, or decrease their number, my wish is, that his Majesty had for every ten an hundred. But when I look into the state of the kingdom, to which my place in several counties calls me, I find there is a select and choice company culled out in every shire, which are called the cautionary or trained band, and which are armed with pike and musket, yet with that difficulty and unpreparedness, that authority herself cannot deny, but if a sudden and unlooked for alarm should raise them, few counties would boast of absolute perfection, but allow them (as they should be) complete in every thing belonging unto them, yet they are but a handful, and not to compare with the unarmed, one in an hundred. If then, to these trained bands, there were an equal number or a much greater of well disciplined bow-men, doubtless they would be found of great use; and not only gain glory to the kingdom, but fear and amazement to all those which durst to attempt us and that this is a work most necessary and most easy, without charge, trouble, or other difficulty, thus I approve it.

First, for the necessity, it is known to all those which either know us, have heard of us, or have felt us; that we are a potent, valiant, and daring nation: not trusting unto walled towns, castles, forts or concealed stratagems, but unto the God of battles, a good cause, and well managed arms so that what enemy soever will seek us, shall find us in the open field, where a battle must ever be made the arbitrator of our good or evil fortune. If then, the chance of one day must decide our controversy, what better art can be used in that extremity, then the art of multiplication, or bringing of most multitudes to fight without disorder; for, according to the proverb, "Many hands make light work", and albe a few may prevail through the virtue of discipline, yet more will do more good, if valor and wisdom be not wanting, as thus for example; a battle is to be fought, and the king brings into the field 20,000 armed with pike and musket, to bring a greater number with those weapons is difficult or hurtful, either through the want of arms, or the necessity of other places. If then, there be 10,000 strong and well exercised bow-men to join unto them, can any man be so sottish as not to conceive what terror and amazement those showers of arrows will bring to the enemy, let this be judged by them that have seen the affright in battles, for mine own part, I cannot but conceive it a work of great necessity, excellent use, and infinity profitable both to the King, and his kingdoms.

Now touching the easy accomplishment of this work, without charge or vexation, or so much as a grumbling to the common people, it may thus (if his Majesty please) be effected.

There are (or at least there ought to be) in every city, town, hamlet and village, a certain select company of the best and ablest men both for person and estate, which should amount to a double number, or more ten those which are called the trained men, as thus, if in a town there be one trained man, then there should be two or three of these; if two trained men then four, five or six of these, according to the ability and popularity of the place, and these be called supplies, because from them the trained bands are supplied and reinforced upon every alteration, change, death, old-age, aor any other necessary avoidance. Now these supplies are bound to appearance at all muster, as well as the trained bands and do so, but having given in their names, they depart away without any exercise or military instruction, and so spend out the rest of the day either in the alehouse or some other place where they laugh at those which are taking pains and busy to be instructed, so that when they come to be called into the band themselves, their ignorance is so great, that they hurt both themselves and others.

Now, if it would please his Majesty, or those to whom he has dispensed such authority, to command, that these supplies should give their attendance with bows, arrows & palizadoes, or staves, assuming the likeness of the palizadoe & so to be exercised with the trained bands which carry pike & musket. This benefit would arise from such proceeding. First, a glory to the band by augmentation of their number, an expertness in the soldier, by his acquaintance with all manner of weapons, and a dexterity of body by the use and knowledge of every military motion. For, allow the bow to be as despised a thing as either envy or ignorance would have it, yet out of this discipline the bowman shall learn these most necessary lessons. First, all manner of marches & countermarches, turnings & returnings, wheelings imbattlings, doublings, and deductings, distance of place, how to charge, retire, and how to give showers or volleys upon all occasions, the posture of the bow and arrow, which has affinity with the musket, and the postures of the palizadoe, which is a good conduct to the pike, he shall learn the beatings of the drum, all words of command, the power of his superior officers, and indeed what not, that belongs to an ordinary soldier so that when any of them shall be called in to the trained band to handle other weapons, they will be found so skillful and expert, that there can be no fear either of confusion or disorder, and where his Majesty has one soldier now, he will then have two or a greater number.

Now if I shall be questioned touching the mixture of these several weapons, the pike, the musket, and the bow, or in what sort they may be imbattled without disorder or hindrance of one weapon with another; I answer, that albe there are a world of more worthy soldiers which can better demonstrate these things than myself, yet this is my opinion, and thus I conceive it may be done both easily and profitably. In the days of Queen Elizabeth of thrice happy and blessed memory, when the use of the musket was newly brought from beyond the seas into this kingdom, and the virtue thereof found and approved; yet was the weapon so scarce to be had, workman so slow, and new alterations so unpleasant, that the state was compelled to compound their bands of three several weapons, the pike, musket, and the harquebus or calliver, as I am able to show by sundry lists, both of my own and others. But after the expense of some small time, by the care of the Lords lieutenants, and the diligence of their deputies, the bands were reduced into that estate wherein now they stand, which is, pike and musket only, and the harquebus cast off. Now instead of the harquebus, and as the harquebus, so would I have the bow employed, and as the musket do wing the pike so I would have the bow to wing the musket, observing to keep the number so just and constant that one weapon might not intermix with another, but as three distinct and several bodies, (however joined in one battalion) to be separated and disposed at the pleasure of the commander; and because the bow is a more ready and quicker weapon of side charge then the musket, the captains may by doubling, either ranks or files, make his showers of arrows greater or less, according to the advantage of ground, the strength of his numbers, or the approach of the enemy.

Many other things might be added to this little beginning, which were much to tedious to handle in this place; because, I only desire but to open a little narrow way to a great deal of profit for the kingdom, which if it shall please authority to accept and second, both myself and many others, much more worthy than myself, will be ready with our uttermost endeavors to make good this project. Besides, the now almost half lost Societies of Bowers and Fletchers, will get a little warmth and, both praise their God, and pray for their king, from whom these good things issue. Not that the countries or soldiers shall be forced to any new charge of cost, by which extraordinary gain may redound unto them, but that the wholesome laws of the kingdom (which bind every man to be master of a bow and arrows) may be a little awakened. And so I return again to the Art of Archerie, and the true knowledge with use of the bow and arrow, and all things else depending upon them.

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